Self-esteem and coping responses of athletes with acute versus chronic injuries

Percept Mot Skills. 1998 Jun;86(3 Pt 2):1402. doi: 10.2466/pms.1998.86.3c.1402.


Self-esteem and coping strategies have been important factors in athletes' response to injury and subsequent rehabilitation. Specifically, athletic injury has been negatively associated with self-esteem, while certain coping strategies may enhance adherence to rehabilitation (1, 4). Little is known, however, concerning the effect of acute (sudden specific event) versus chronic injury (repetitive injury over a prolonged period of time) on self-esteem and coping strategies. The Rosenberg Self-esteem Inventory (3), selected subscales of the Ways of Coping Questionnaire (2), and a demographic questionnaire were administered. The subscales of Ways of Coping Questionnaire employed were Seeking Social Support, Accepting Responsibility for the injury, and Escape Avoidance of the injury. To assess the influence of acute versus chronic injury status, effect sizes (ES) were calculated. Although no difference was found for Accepting Responsibility, chronically injured athletes scored higher on Escape/Avoidance (M = 2.4 vs 1.9, SD = 1.2 vs .6, ES = .52) and lower on Seeking Social Support (M = 2.5 vs 2.8, SD = .6 vs .4, ES = .47) than athletes with acute injuries. Those with chronic injuries also second more negatively on self-esteem (M = 6.2 vs 4.4, SD = 1.2 vs 1.2, ES = 1.30) than acutely injured athletes. These preliminary results suggest the type of injury may differentially affect self-esteem and coping behavior. As self-esteem is theorized to be relatively stable construct, it is perhaps not surprising that chronic injuries have a greater effect than acute injuries. Chronically injured athletes also sought social support less and engaged in more escape/avoidance behavior, suggesting that they cope with injury differently than those with acute injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Athletic Injuries / classification
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis
  • Athletic Injuries / psychology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Personality Inventory
  • Self Concept*